Three dead in shooting in Dutch city of Utrecht: mayor

Police say they have captured the shooting suspect after an hours-long manhunt but motive remains unclear.

A suspect is in custody in the Netherlands after a shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht killed three people and wounded five, says the city’s police chief Rob van Bree.

Dutch authorities had raised the threat level to its highest after the shooting. It was reduced once the hours-long manhunt came to an end. 

Utrecht police had earlier published a photo of the suspect, identifying him as 37-year old Gokman Tanis, who was born in Turkey.

In a tweet, Utrecht police had warned residents. “Do not approach him yourself, but immediately call” authorities it said.

After the shooting, police flooded the streets and the city was put in lockdown. Schools were told to shut their doors and paramilitary police increased security at airports and other vital infrastructure. Security was also stepped up at mosques.

The shooter’s motive was unclear. Police said they could not rule out “terrorism” but the Turkish news agency Anadolu said the suspect’s relatives believe he shot at someone close to the family due to “family issues”.

A witness told NOS he saw an injured woman running from the tram. She appeared to have been shot in the chest and had blood on her hands and clothes.

“I brought her into my car and helped her. When the police arrived, she was unconscious,” NOS cited the witness as saying.

Emergency services, including police and medical helicopters, were at the scene of the shooting.

Heavily armed police patrolled the streets of Utrecht and people were urged to stay inside. [Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters]
Heavily armed police patrolled the streets of Utrecht and people were urged to stay inside. [Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters]

Political parties have announced they are suspending campaigning for the provincial elections that are due to take place on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte had convened crisis talks, saying he was deeply concerned about the incident, which came three days after the killing of 50 people in mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

“An act of terror is an attack on our open and tolerant society,” the prime minister said. “If this is a terror attack, then there is only one answer: our rule and democracy are stronger than fanaticism and violence. We will not accept intolerance.”

Source: Al Jazeera